“People in need of help may not realize all that we do – 2-1-1 helps spread the word.”
Fifty years ago, the Shenango Valley Urban League (SVUL) opened in Farrell, PA to help meet the needs of its community members struggling to meet basic needs. Since then, the organization has grown to support a variety of needs throughout the community.
“We are here to serve our community however we can. If we see a need, we try to figure out how we can address it,” said Dr. Erin Houston, President and CEO, SVUL.
The SVUL focuses on five key focus areas: housing services, such as rent assistance and first-time home-buying counseling; youth/educational programs; human relations, such as helping individuals file discrimination claims; employment opportunities and career development; and its two-site Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program in Oil City and Farrell. In total, the organization serves more than 3,800 individuals every year.
“These programs are very important to our community. We help people keep their roof over their heads; offer summer youth programs; assist people in finding employment; and more,” Houston added.
PA 2-1-1 Southwest is vital to connecting the community with the SVUL’s services. SVUL is one of the top agencies to which 2-1-1 refers callers. In 2017, nearly 200 referrals were made to the organization. “2-1-1 directs individuals to us for programs that callers might not have even known we offered,” Houston explained.
Houston added how critical it is that 2-1-1 allows people in need to speak with a real person and not an automated response system. “People can call, explain their situation and get connected to the resource that is going to help them in the best way. We’re proud to be a partner of 2-1-1,” Houston said.